[Chicago] – Just Blew In From The Windy City!

If you talk to those who live there, it’s almost on cue that Chicagoans would proudly proclaim it as the greatest city in the world (Hmmm…as a native New Yorker, that title may be up for debate! lol), from their infamous deep dish pizza (Giordano’s pizza was good, but the best in the city is at the Cityscape Bar HANDS DOWN!!), and towering skyscrapers overlooking sandy beaches, to sun-filled baseball games at Wrigley Field, twilight concerts in Millennium Park and free fireworks at Navy Pier — there’s always something happening in Chicago!

It’s been about a month since I got back, and despite some minor bumps in the road — this trip was a great experience! Although there were amazing sights in Chicago, I have to say the thing I enjoyed the most were the friendships I fostered there. Big shouts out to my friend and fellow photographer Chris Wilson! Although it had been about five years since we last saw each other (and he will tell anyone who’ll listen that during his visit to the Big Apple that I left him stranded down in the bowels of the NYC subway with nothing more than a Snickers bar and a bottle of water — LIES I TELL YA! đŸ˜‰ ), one would never know it as our laughs and the fun stories behind them picked up where they left off and it was just like old times! Thanks for lunch Chris and give my chocolate drops Mia, Colby and Miles big hugs and kisses for me!

Also thank you to Dana Winston who is, in a word: HILARIOUS! We’ve known each other for sometime through social media, but it was actually our first time meeting face to face and with a big hug, some encouraging words and a half dozen Sugar Bliss Mini Cupcakes, he won me over! Dana, your accents are hysterical, but I truly appreciated our talk and getting to know more of the real you! (“Yeah mon!” lol) And lastly, there’s the man whose patience and chivalry should be bottled and sold — Raymond Boyd! In the crunch that was the last few days of my time in Chiraq (the word is now stuck in my head — thanks Dana!), Raymond was one of the best tour guides a girl could ask for! From waiting in line with me at the Willis Tower to get a view of the city or that cheesy tourist photo on The Ledge, to getting eaten alive by mosquitos during our nighttime shoots around town, to having the get away car warmed up and ready to go after being chased by the Secret Service (YES! That really happened!), I am forever grateful! I would also like to thank my family (cousins Rudy, Evelina, Qwendolyn, Quawi and Qorvette) for their warm welcome, generosity and hospitality!! Love you guys!

Chicago is a city of paradoxes, known for it’s extremes. From the weather to even some aspects of city life. But after this experience, there will always be a warm place in my heart for Chicagoland. Oh! and let’s not forget Garrett Popcorn, with whom I should buy stock after all the bags of popped perfection I ate while there! Chicago Mix…where you at?! LOL!!! Feel free to send a tin or two this way on your next visit! đŸ™‚
Check out a few images HERE!

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Prom Night!

Some say it’s a grand tradition…or a rite of passage…or maybe just an awesome night out with friends who’ve made your high school years loads of fun (or dare I say it, maybe just tolerable!); call it what you want, but going off to prom (whether you’re the jock, the cheerleader or the leader of the NACO group) is ALWAYS memorable!! So I was totally excited and honored to see Aysia (whose parents I’ve known since she was a little girl) get all dolled up for a night of fun!! There were corsages, sparkles from head to toe, a stretch limo for the ages (it was in a word: SICK y’all!) handsome young men, beautiful young ladies and magnificent memories to be made! This was also a night to celebrate being young while having the world at your feet! Aysia is off to college this fall and I have no doubt that success is squarely within her sights — you go girl!! AsiaProm5tag

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Making Strides…

Fuscia, Cotton Candy, Magenta… It’s the color of the day. The affect cancer has on families/ friends so often goes beyond words and it’s something that no one should ever face, but unfortunately so many often do. Specifically, breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women this year. But breast cancer is also the most preventable, with a 92% survival rate. It’s great to know the facts, but today is about standing strong in LIFE. Cancer has had a personal effect on my life and today I’m walking for those in my life who have survived (I love you Teresa and Edna! And my girl Ebony — I see you, Eb!) and sending light and love to those who have not (Te amo Marcella, estas en mi corazon para siempre). October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month…Get those boobs checked, people! We all need you here!!

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Love, Liberty and Ladies Who Lunch : Lynn’s 30th Birthday Celebration

There are girls who grow into the kind of women who know exactly what they want; from the kind of job they want to have, to the kind of car they want to drive, even to the type of man they want to marry! And while fate holds the cards for some of life’s happenings, other choices, like our friends, flow into our lives with ease. Meet Lynn, an engaging, insightful and funny young woman who knew just what she wanted for her soiree in celebration of her 30th birthday last weekend: Note eight of her closest girlfriends, great food, the best wine and pure decadence on the water!! Now I ask you, what could be more decadent than a YACHT?! And not just any old clunker boat, but a 97 foot private luxury vessel (the S.S. Minnow has nothing on this, guys!) So…all aboard and away we go!!

Now, I’ve always thought of myself as somewhat adventurous (there was climbing Dunns River Falls in Jamaica, parasailing in Mexico, going to the top of both the Arch de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, paragliding in San Diego and even rock climbing at Chelsea Piers — all done with a slight fear of heights), but admittedly with this exploit, once I stepped onto the yacht and felt the slightest sway, I became a ball of nerves, pondering every scenario, like: what if I lost a shoe or what if my glasses fell off my face and slipped overboard (this actually happened to my friend Felicia on a class trip on the NYC Circle Line in the fourth grade — it undoubtedly scarred me for life!) or even, dare I say it, what if I became so queazy, I lost my lunch!! But as the guardian of the day’s memories, I couldn’t lose my cool (but more than that, I couldn’t let a pregnant woman in heels steal my shine — I see you, Toya!!), so I put all my worries aside and proceeded to document the fun!!

And what fun it was!! We all danced, laughed and shared secrets like great girlfriends often do! I was even made privy to some moments that I’m sure they would never want their mothers to know about — but reassured ladies, your secrets are safe with me! But mostly, in between enjoying the lobster and chocolate covered strawberries, the toasts of chardonnay, bursts of laughter and outright silliness, the point of the day was crystal clear — these women came together as pillars of support for one another and to applaud each other’s triumphs! It was an awesome thing to witness! I want to give a special shout to Senior Purser Ingrid and the entire staff of “Justine” — you guys were awesome and made us all feel so welcomed! Finally, as the yacht pulled into port the ladies huddled together for one last picture. Perfection. And as the limo pulled away after dropping me off, I couldn’t help but feel such joy for Lynn and her friends. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. And Lynn, I’d say you chose some wonderful sisters to walk through life with…Happy Birthday!